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I am looking for some horror books to scare the shit out of me.

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M.R. James is great old fashioned horror

 

Would certainly recommend Lovecraft too  - the 2 volumes of his short stories should be required reading!

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I love horror anthologies on television so I prefer short horror prose to lengthy novels.

 

Stephen King's short prose is far more entertaining than his novels.  I have read through Night Shift, Different Seasons, Everything's Eventual, and Nightmares & Dreamscapes dozens of times.

 

I am not fond of most of Clive Barker's stuff but the short story, Dread, is fucking awesome.

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King's short stories do indeed tend to be better than his longer works.  Skeleton Crew is my personal favorite, especially since it includes "The Mist".  

 

Lovecraft is good, but he's one of those authors whose work really needs to be read in a certain order.  Do NOT tackle "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath", "At the Mountains of Madness", or "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" before you've already read a whole bunch of his other stuff, because they blatantly spoil too many of his mythos's secrets..  "The Outsider" is a pretty good place to start, it's only like six pages long and pretty much sums up his entire style.  Also: be warned, Lovecraft was sometimes a pretty horrible racist and obviously believed wholeheartedly in the bastard "science" of eugenics, so that kind of crap tends to pop up in his writing every so often.  (Especially avoid "Herbert West: Re-Animator" if you're averse to encountering that sort of thing.)  Try some of his lesser-talked-about works, like "In the Walls of Eryx" which is a pretty fascinating and creepy scifi tale.  "The Colour Out of Space", "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", "The Whisperer in the Dark", "The Rats in the Walls", "Pickman's Model", "Dreams in the Witch House", "The Dunwich Horror" and "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" are generally agreed to be among his best works (and don't give too much of the game away in terms of his mysterious universe's secrets).  He also ghostwrote a story for Harry Houdini one time called "Under the Pyramids" (or "Imprisoned With the Pharaohs") with Houdini himself as the protagonist and narrator, which is pretty cool.  

 

Richard Matheson (RIP! :( ) is always a must-have.  I Am Legend is the obvious one, but lots of his short stories are really damn good as well.  He's one of the more practical and down-to-earth fantastical writers ever, he specializes in taking unbelievable shit and making it seem downright plausible.  

 

Although they're primarily known for their sense of humor, David Wong's books John Dies at the End and This Book Is Full of Spiders have a shitload of legitimately unsettling moments.  

 

Has there ever been a more perfect literary definition of "one-hit wonder" than Mark Z. Danielewski?  Most of his work is flatly unreadable, an infuriating jumble of way-out-there experimentation which would give James Joyce a headache.  But he had one shining moment of glory with the stone-cold masterpiece House of Leaves, which is maybe the single creepiest book I've ever read in my life.  

 

Honestly, a lot of Michael Crichton's books are pretty much works of horror.  They get called "scifi" or "thrillers" or whatever other label people slap on stuff to claim it's ANYTHING but the dirty h-word, but I dunno how else you'd classify stuff like Jurassic Park, Congo, or Sphere when the primary goal is clearly to scare the reader shitless.  (And except for Jurassic Park, Crichton's books are usually a LOT better than the movie adaptations.)  Ditto with the team of Preston Douglas and Lincoln Child, though they're somewhat less talented and more hackish and lean somewhat more towards mystery than horror; but still, their best works like Thunderhead or The Ice Limit or Reliquary are great trash.  

 

But for REAL hardcore horror: the name is Bentley Little.  He is the true crack-smoking, reader-alienating, not-giving-a-single-fuck demagogue of the entire genre.  The University, The Ignored, and his short story anthology The Collection are probably his best works.  But be forewarned, his stuff is REALLY GODDAMN SICK and is absolutely not for anyone who's easily offended by pretty much anything.  Especially his frequent use of sexual violence, which sometimes works perfectly in its shock-your-socks-off intended manner but sometimes goes over the line into "alright motherfucker, that's the SEVENTH rape scene in this book, enough already!" kind of territory.  

 

Finally, look up a little book called My Favorite Horror Story, in which all the modern horror greats from King on down all got together and each chose one single story.  It's a random and ramshackle collection, but an awfully awesome one.  

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Useless trivia: my dad was best buds with Crichton growing up on Long Island.

 

I'd throw Robert McCammon in for discussion, especially Swan Song.

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned Dan Simmons yet. Even his sci-fi stuff like the Hyperion Cantos has a lot of heavy horror elements.

They also just published a collection of Robert E. Howard's horror stuff, which is quite good.

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Joe Hill. 20th Century Ghosts is a great anthology and all three of his full length novels are different shades of terrific. NOS4A2 is pretty much the grand unified theory of horror novels while being SUPREMELY fucked up and unsettling in its own right.

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I'm starting Joe Hill's NOS4A2 today, really excited to get into it after reading the first 5 Volumes of Locke & Key. Anxiously awaiting Volume 6!

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Hope you dig it. I highly recommend his other novels first, honestly, but that has more to do with a bunch of references in N0S 4A2 that'll make you pop if you catch them.

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Well, for short fiction a good place to start is The Century's Best Horror from Cemetery Dance Publishers... You got one story per year from 1901-2000, so all the greats are represented as well as some real surprises.

 

For something obscure, the novels of R.R. Ryan are sick, sick, sick... The fact that they were written in the 1930s and 1940s makes them even more disturbing. Freak Museum and The Subjugated Beast have just been reprinted www.ramblehouse.com with the rest soon to follow.

 

For modern authors Bently Little definitely delivers at novel length as does Simon Clark.  For shorter fiction Caitlin R. Kiernan, Laird Barron, Brian Hodge, Tim Lebbon and the aforementioned Mr. Clark are as good as it gets. And of course, still the best is Ramsey Campbell, forty-five years writing and he just keeps getting better...

 

For the classics, everyone's read Lovecraft, but one of his favorites (with good reason) was Edward Lucas White, a comprehensive collection of White's fiction has just been published. Someone mentioned Robert E. Howard, and if he's written nothing but "Pigeons from Hell", he'd belong in this discussion, but there's a lot more... Before King came along, the previous decade (1960s)  belonged to Sir Charles Birkin, some of the nastiest stuff ever written... Actually, there was quite a bit of good stuff being published in the UK that didn't make it over here... Birkin, Glasby, Blackburn, Wheatley... All worth checking out. Matter of fact, Blackburn's novels are being reprinted by Valancourt Books as inexpensive trade paperbacks, something that's been long overdue as many of his books sell for big bucks with no cheap edition available...

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Speaking of Lovecraft's early influences and authors who are totally impossible to find in non-super-expensive printings: when the fuck is William Hope Hodgson gonna get his stuff reprinted so anyone besides college students can actually read it? He's great, like a weird melding of Lovecraft and Melville, but his work is so rare and hard to find that nobody's ever heard of him.

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Another one from that early time period is Robert W. Chambers. Very Lovecraftian stuff in his story collection 'The King in Yellow'.

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Night Shade Books reprinted ALL of Hodgson a few years back. You can still get 3 of the five volumes for about $30. Check eBay and you might get lucky and find all of them...

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As an aside, take anything OSJ says on this topic as gospel.

 

If you like Lovecraft, an author I found who is very much like him, and quite good, is Algernon Blackwood.

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The buried lead in this thread is the return of OSJ.

Huzzah

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As an aside, take anything OSJ says on this topic as gospel.

 

If you like Lovecraft, an author I found who is very much like him, and quite good, is Algernon Blackwood.

 

Well, Blackwood was far more varied in his output than Lovecraft and unfortunately, neiither of the inexpensive collections purporting to be his "best" supernatural fiction are even within shouting distance of being the "best". You really want to seek out "The Wendigo" and "The Willows" (the latter may be the closest thing to a perfect horror story ever written), the John Silence stuff is great if you go for the psychic detective theme.

 

Seriously, the closest thing to a "Best of" that I've found was a 1940s collection called "Shocks". If you can find a cheap copy, that's probably the best Blackwood bang for the buck that you can get. On the other hand, if it's quantity and quality that you're after, Centipede Press did a massive, over-size volume of Blackwood that sells for around $250-$300. It's nearly 1000 pages and includes all of Blackwood's best material. In fact, for the well-heeled, the Centipede Press "Masters of the Weird Tale" is really a good way to go... I won't pretend that they aren't expensive and I probably wouldn't own more than a couple if it weren't for the fact that I've edited several volumes in the series, but the series contains everyone that you would expect (Blackwood, Lovecraft, Mchen, Hodgson and then several that you might not expect... Frank Belknap Long*, Henry Kuttner, Carl Jacobi*, Karl Edward Wagner, Arthur J. Burks*, Hugh B. Cave, and Jean Ray*. Several of these are still forthcoming, those with an * were put together by myself and in the case of Jacobi, I had the very welcome assistance of my pal S.T. Joshi.

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Release date for Doctor Sleep is September 24th.

 

Posted Image

 

Premise is promising but as with all of SK's long prose, I will wait until I read a review or two.

 

Of his more recent novels, Cell, remains my favorite because he finally figured out how to end a long story.

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Hope you dig it. I highly recommend his other novels first, honestly, but that has more to do with a bunch of references in N0S 4A2 that'll make you pop if you catch them.

 

I finished NOS4A2 and I absolutely loved it, I really need to read his other books now!

 

Is anyone else on here on goodreads?

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Just finished Doctor Sleep at lunch today. 

 

Starts off like gangbusters but ultimately fizzles out.  A good novel to be sure, but it had a high bar to reach being billed as the sequel to The Shining.

 

Definitely suffers from quality of opposition.  The True Knot are not in the league of Barlow, Randall Flagg, Pennywise, or any of King's premier chthonic forces.

 

The two King "villains" that freaked me out the most weren't even human or even humanoid for that matter:  The Overlook Hotel and Blaine The Mono.

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To make up for the lackluster King novel, you ought to pick up Caitlin Kiernan's new collection The Ape's Wife. Along with Laird Barron, she's probably the best writer in the field today.

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The two King "villains" that freaked me out the most weren't even human or even humanoid for that matter:  The Overlook Hotel and Blaine The Mono.

 

Which begs asking how much of that was King and how much was Peter Straub?

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I've tried to get into Straub, but I just don't see the appeal.  I've read Ghost Story at least twice, and wasn't remotely scared and never got the point. 

 

Since OSJ mentioned him, Arthur Machen really needs to be more popular.  For lack of a better term I'd call his work semi-Lovecraftian (they were contemporaries and peers), although he's clearly much more of the English style; there's a lot of Robert Louis Stevenson, a bit of Charles Dickens, and believe it or not even the tiniest hint of Jane Austen.  But then he goes and clobbers your soul with something like The Great God Pan, which might seem just the tiniest bit quaint today, but was considered incredibly decadent and controversial back then. 

 

EDIT: and oh yeah, great call on Blaine The Mono.  Such an amazing "character" that I didn't even mind that King immediately ended the book on a damn cliffhanger right after he introduced it.  Odetta's humanist interpretation of what Blaine did to the other train was a real kick in the nuts, so thankfully Roland's manner of defeating the villain was incredibly goddamn hilarious. 

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